The second in Noio's side-scrolling strategy series, Kingdom: New Lands, is the latest giveaway on the Epic Games Store, and the last weekly freebie of the current sale. It's a minimalist action-strategy game where you play as a mounted monarch in a lush 2D world. You tell the peasantry what to build and where, and convince them to do the job with coins thrown from your coin-pouch (which you'll tax out of them later), in hopes of building a town capable of surviving nightly monster raids. Grab the game here before June 13th, and see the trailer in all its pixellated glory below.
Kingdom: New Lands is an unusual game if you're used to traditional real-time strategy. You have little to no direct control over your people, and very little UI to keep track of. Effectively, you play as a glorified money-stuffed cursor, your bulging purse being your key method of interacting with the hardy village-folk. While the original Kingdom was perhaps minimalist to a fault, this sequel adds (as the title may suggest) new environments (a series of islands) and the option to play as a little pixel queen instead of a king. Not huge additions, but given the middling reception the co-op third game -- Kingdom: Two Crowns -- received, it feels like a precariously balanced formula.
It's a treat to look at and listen to. The sprites may not be wildly detailed, with faces just a blank square of pixels, but they're smoothly animated and convincingly lit, especially as night falls. The gentle ambient soundtrack during daytime makes way for a far more menacing soundscape at night. There's a tense rhythm to the game - give orders, explore and gather during the day, then scramble back home when the monsters come. Looks like the Kingdom series has a long future ahead of it too, as publisher Raw Fury recently announced that they'd bought the rights to the series from original developer Thomas Van Den Berg.
Kingdom: New Lands is free here on the Epic Games Store until June 13th, at which point the store will return to its usual fortnightly free games rotation. The current sale, slicing £10 from the price of every game over £14, also ends that day.